Farm-To-Plate Summer Dishes To Try This Summer On The North Fork

The culinary scene on the North Fork of Long Island is a hidden gem of understated spectacular. Rooted in a rich agricultural history dating back to the 1600s, this enchanting region is surrounded by sprawling farmland. It boasts an incredible array of seafood from the Peconic Bay and surrounding areas. Here, “Farm to Plate” isn’t just a trend; it’s a way of life. 

John Ross’s name sticks out when discussing the pioneers of today’s North Fork culinary scene. Arriving over 50 years ago, he opened Ross’ North Fork Restaurant on Main Road in Southold and changed the game. 

John was a true maverick, using only local ingredients. Imagine fresh fish, scallops, clams, and oysters from the bay; spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, corn, and tomatoes picked from the area’s farm stands. Every morning, John would survey his bounty and craft a daily menu. The term “farm to table” hadn’t even been coined back then. Today, local chefs continue to revel in the bounty of the North Fork, crafting dishes with locally grown produce, raised livestock, and freshly caught seafood. Their close relationships with farmers and fishermen result in a symbiosis that brings some of the freshest and most innovative cuisine to life. I had the pleasure of catching up with a few of my favorite North Fork chefs to chat about the local ingredients they’re celebrating this season. Get ready to salivate and start planning your visit to the North Fork to indulge in these culinary delights!

The Watershed’s scallop ceviche.

The Watershed Kitchen and Bar in Jamesport is a little off the beaten path, but that’s how locals like it. This restaurant and inn serve consistently delicious dishes with a side of live music every weekend. I had a chance to chat with the owner, James Mangiacapre. Here’s what he had to say about using local: “Our locally sourced scallops are something we take pride in incorporating in our menu. For summer, we are running a scallop ceviche, a different variation than the classic white fish choice. We marry in fresh flavors by using crisp ingredients like avocado, red radish, cucumber, and red onion. The dish is accompanied by a light sauce, made with lemon juice, cilantro, and jalapeno for a hint of spice.” 

Lombardi’s zucchini blossom focaccia.

On my way eastward, I stopped in Mattituck to catch up with the fabulous Chef Lauren Lombardi, the culinary genius behind Lombardi’s Love Lane Market and Catering. Known for her elegant and visually stunning dishes, Lauren has a knack for turning the natural beauty of food into absolute masterpieces.

Lauren’s excitement was palpable as she shared her favorite dish featuring the summer bounty. “Every summer season, I can’t wait for local zucchini blossoms and baby zucchini to make their debut at the farms. I love stopping at Sang Lee’s Farmstand or Treiber Farm’s cute little farm shop! Cooking seasonally with zucchini blossoms offers a beautiful way to celebrate summer’s bounty. Zucchini blossoms, with their delicate, slightly sweet taste, can be stuffed with cheese, battered and fried, simply tossed with your favorite pasta, or topped on pizza and focaccia. Highlighting their beautiful color, I love to feature them on seasonal focaccia. It’s summer season, and zucchini blossom focaccia is one of my favorite vibrant, garden-fresh treats!” Lauren’s enthusiasm and passion for using fresh, local ingredients make this dish a must-try this season.  

Fyr & Salt’s Za’atar lamb meatball over garlic scape yogurt.

Can you get fresher farm ingredients than operating a café on a farm? The guys from Fyr & Salt would argue no. Chefs Max Mohrmann and Jonathan Shearman recently took over the café and market at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue. Their bond goes beyond their love for exquisite food — it’s rooted in a shared passion for sustainable sourcing and the farmers who make it all possible. This made it the perfect fit for 8 Hands Farm, where the focus is on sustainability and seasonality. 

They had this to say about how they are using 8 Hands meat and produce this summer, “A seasonal dish we are featuring at the cafe & market at 8 Hands farm is a Za’atar lamb meatball over garlic scape yogurt, accompanied by a cucumber salad, tossed with olives, feta, and onion and sumac. The lamb is pasture-raised on the farm, mixed with our eggs and house-made sourdough breadcrumbs, herbs from the garden, and a house Za’atar blend. The NYS A2 yogurt from Old Chatham is made using garlic scapes from the garden. This pairs great with a loaf of our sourdough bread to pick up the yogurt and olive oil at the end. Variations of this meatball dish will be available often at the cafe or for sale in the market. Our mission is to showcase the seasonality of our area and change the menus to reflect what’s available that week.” I love visiting 8 Hands, not only to stock up on goods to bring home, but to try all of the innovative dishes at the café and market. 

Minnow at the Galley Ho’s spaghetti con crudo with garlic, oil, chili pepper, fine tartare of fish and
Marcona almonds.

Driving down the scenic roads of New Suffolk, we stop at a restaurant overlooking the waterfront. Minnow at the Galley Ho is setting the standard for sustainability in the North Fork’s dining scene. Environmental consciousness is woven into every aspect of this charming restaurant, from its carefully curated menu to thoughtfully designed decor. Here, you’ll find only line-caught seafood and locally sourced produce, ensuring that each dish is as fresh and eco-friendly as possible.

The restaurant’s ambiance is a testament to its commitment to sustainability. It features refurbished and reclaimed wood from around the North Fork. Even the dining accouterments, like mismatched, thrifted silverware sets, echo Minnow’s eco-friendly ethos.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Chef Anna Paola Mannucci, who talked about showcasing local fish in classic ways. Chef Anna’s creative culinary prowess transforms the freshest local catches into extraordinary dishes celebrating North Fork’s bountiful waters and sustainable practices. “The Spaghetti Con Crudo is a dish which I always have on my menu. It is very popular in Southern Italy, and we are very proud of it. The base of this dish stays the same, but the fish that we use in it changes based on the freshest local catch. Today, we are showcasing local weakfish. We made this dish with a bottarga of weakfish, which is the process of drying and shaving the fish over the pasta, which results in a salty, sweet, and creamy pasta. It also includes a simple spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and chili flakes, crispy capers, and pangrattato.” The love for showcasing the simple beauty of local seafood is evident at Minnow at the Galley Ho. You will most definitely taste the appreciation for the local bounty in each and every bite.  

Little Fish’s grilled local asparagus, over a bed of smoked Labneh.

On to our next stop in Southold, Little Fish is known for its scenic location on a remote beach. They serve exciting coastal cuisine emphasizing globally inspired and locally sourced food served in a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Chef Ryan Barth-Dwyer has made his mark on the culinary map with his innovative Monk Fish Tika Masala. He had this to say about his excitement for this season, “I love featuring seasonal greens. Right now, we have been getting incredible asparagus from Indian Neck Farms. Both purple and green, nice and hearty, so tender you can snack on them raw. The dish has actually been so popular it’s never made it onto the menu. Our servers are hand-selling it, and we sell out every week. It was a dish originally inspired from my recent travels to Istanbul. The concept of this dish will feature a rotating selection of local produce. So it is exciting to see what we can cultivate next.” Asparagus is definitely a star on the North Fork. Chef Ryan’s spin on this beloved veggie is one you won’t want to miss this season. 

Anker’s tuna tartare with lovage oil, sea beans, anchovy crème, and caviar.

Some might argue that the epicenter of the culinary scene on the North Fork resides in the quaint village of Greenport. I visited two of my favorite eateries to discuss dishes, gracing their menus featuring amazing local ingredients. First stop, Anker. Right at the edge of Greenport Harbor, Anker Restaurant is a stunning culinary destination designed to mimic a multi-level sailboat. Picture a building with a sleek mahogany hull, a gleaming brass deck, and a broad yellow and white sail. Anker is a local, seasonal American seafood haven showcasing the very best from North Fork farms and fisheries.

Anker’s Chef Humberto Guallpa

I had the chance to catch up with Chef Humberto Guallpa, and he said about this summer’s favorite dish, “It’s nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite dish that features locally sourced ingredients because we use local ingredients in all of our dishes! But the dish that really shines this summer is the tuna tartare, made almost completely with locally sourced ingredients. Tuna fished fresh from Orient Point, shallots and edible flowers from KK’s The Farm in Southold, my chives come from Ron’s Horticultural Farm in Orient. And, sea beans are also foraged from a secret spot we found in Orient. We are so lucky to have these ingredients at our fingertips.”

PORT Waterfront Bar & Grill’s mushroom & polenta.

Our final stop on this culinary adventure is at PORT Waterfront Bar & Grill in Greenport. Nestled by the sea, PORT may present itself as a laid-back seaside outpost, but don’t be deceived by its casual, unassuming vibes. This gem offers a mouthwatering array of fresh seafood, pub fare, wine, and cocktails. However, the real magic happens in the kitchen with Chef Terance Jenkins at the helm.

PORT’s Chef Terance Jenkins

Each of Chef Terrance’s plates is a testament to his creativity and passion for showcasing the best of the region’s bounty. So, while you might come for the relaxed atmosphere, you’ll stay for the unforgettable flavors. We were excited to hear more about what he was doing with Mattituck Mushrooms. “We are super excited to use our friend’s products from Mattituck Mushrooms — a local farm producing beautiful mushrooms that we use across the whole menu. The dish is called Mushroom & Polenta, going with the theme of using farm-fresh, local ingredients. Creamy polenta, sautéed Mattituck Mushrooms, and fresh shaved parmesan and herbs create the perfect appetizer for sharing,” he said.

As we wrap up our gastronomic journey from Jamesport to Greenport, it’s evident that the North Fork culinary scene is a hidden treasure of subtle brilliance. Rooted in a rich agricultural history, this enchanting region is surrounded by sprawling farmland and boasts an incredible array of seafood from the Peconic Bay and surrounding areas. 

Kelly Siry


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